Therapist's Spring Cleaning: Documents to Keep
Spring is coming! We fully support the itch to start your spring cleaning, but we have put together a list of the things that you should be sure to hold on to and keep in a safe yet easily accessible place! We also have tips on how you can efficiently store these documents to declutter your space and have a productive work environment.
Things to Keep
As a therapist, there are several things that you should have original copies of. These originals might be requested in the event of an audit, or if you are credentialing with new insurance they may request these documents. Here are the things that you should always keep:
Original Hard Copy Documents
License to Practice This license should have been issued by your state. If you are licensed in multiple states, you should have a separate license for each state.
Degree and Education Certificates All that time in the education system should be celebrated! Not only will you need to provide a copy of your degree if you choose to credential with a new insurance panel, but you should also be proud of these accomplishments! If you choose to display your degree certificate, make sure that it is in a frame that is easily accessible so that you can show the document if it’s ever requested.
Continued Education Certificates If you complete any courses that further improve your skills or certify you in specific areas, you should keep hard copies of these certificates as well.
Proof of Address This could be a lease agreement, any sort of utility bill, or a contract. The proof of address is for the address where you conduct your business, and may be requested during the credentialing process or if your address changes.
IRS Paperwork If you have an EIN number, you will want to keep a copy of the document that the IRS sends assigning you that EIN number. It is also important that you hold on to any 1099 forms from insurance companies, and make sure that they are organized by tax year.
Articles of Incorporation When you register your business, you should have received articles of incorporation.
Open Appeals or Claims Projects If you are working on dealing with appeals with an insurance company, it is important to keep any documents involved in the appeal until the case has been closed.
Credentialing Applications If you are in the process of credentialing, or you have already credentialed, hold on to your application paperwork (especially with your original signature on it!). This can be helpful to reference later if you have issues with claims processing.
EOBs Explanation of Benefits paperwork can be stored electronically. Bonus if you can store it directly in your EHR! If you are enrolled for ERA, these documents will get sent directly to your EHR, but if you have any lingering paper copies you can scan them into your computer and shred the paper copies. Once scanned in, see if you are able to upload the documents to your EHR for an even better system of organization!
Fee Schedule and Contracts When you credential with an insurance company, you should be sent a contract along with a fee schedule that outlines what you will be paid for services according to the contract. You may receive a hard copy of these, or it could be an electronic copy. In either case, this is something that you should hold on to. If you receive an updated version, be sure to label each of them with a date so that you know which one is old and which one is new.
Things to Get Rid Of
Generally, we stand by the notion that if the insurance company has sent you something, it likely includes some important information. There are a few things that you can get rid of if you still have them sitting around in the list below.
Newsletters If you receive newsletters from the insurance company, make sure that you are up to date on any announcements and then recycle the newsletter.
Portal Instructions If you have created your portal account and have no issues with accessing the account, go ahead and recycle those instructions.
If you’re unsure, scan the document!
Be sure that you are disposing of your documents properly to maintain HIPAA compliance. We recommend that you have a shredder in your office space. If you are unsure of whether or not a document needs to be shredded, it is best to err on the side of caution and shred it.
Staying organized can be really helpful when it comes to insurance billing. For the original hard copy documents, keep them filed in the same location and label each document accordingly so that when you need them they are readily accessible and easily identifiable. We recommend keeping all documents that pertain to you and your practice together, meaning your license, degree and education certificates, proof of address, IRS documents, and articles of incorporation. Any paperwork that is specific to an insurance company should be grouped by the insurance company, meaning that contracts and fee schedules, open appeals, and credentialing applications should all be grouped together. Have a folder for each insurance company that you are credentialed with.
Follow the same filing system with your electronic documents as you do with your electronic documents as much as you can. Make sure that you know how to access your electronic folders; don’t just let everything accumulate in your downloads folder!
It’s never a bad idea to keep a backup electronic file of any hard copy paperwork. Scanning your documents and saving them in your computer can be helpful in a pinch, but there are some cases where you will need the original as well. Just make sure that you have appropriate security settings and precautions on your computer, meaning password protection and antivirus software.
If you’d like more tips on running a private practice, subscribe to our blog! We provide weekly content that will help you to make the best decisions for your practice, particularly pertaining to all things insurance billing!